I saw Munnabhai MBBS after a long time again, this time via centrist-modern eyes. When I saw the same movie as a child I just saw it as a harmless comedy movie, and the fact that so many adults around me endorsed and praised the film is appalling to me now. I shudder to think about all the other Indian movies, which must be portraying negative values, sexism (bordering on misogyny) to Indians.
The entire movie seems to be anti-modern. Some examples include, the way the protagonist seeks the affection of the deans daughter, "I think I like you, therefore I assume you will like me and find me acceptable, and I will speak to your dad". What about what she thinks? Is that solely governed by what her father thinks. In another instance, a kid who is suicidal is "taught" by Munna, that women are objects in a barrel of fish, and he may dive in anytime and have his fill. And one more, a guy with cancer is "taught" that he should spend his remaining time ogling at strippers and generally treat women as objects.
The female protagonist (Chinki), in order to spurn Munna's affections, and to stymie his further moves asks one of her friends to pretend being her and "scare" Munna. She dons a provocative dress and dances with a few guys and this "scares" our hero. The woman he is supposed to like is "indecent", I quote from the film here, Munna "advices" the father after meeting his "promiscuous" daughter, "You should keep your daughter under control, I can understand that you are a single father, but still" and this was accepted as "decent". Shouldn't a woman choose who she marries or dates? Or what clothes she wears? She is not property. Does she have no will?
The whole movie oozes bad values. In order to gain admission Munna kidnaps a doctor's father (and plays carrom with him, to paint a rosy picture I guess), who should be terrified, and gets the doctor to write all his exams for him, under severe duress. This endorsement of "chalta hai, side se le lo" is rife in Indian pop-culture. Most people are swayed by this and believe that if a man should be "accomplished" (buttload of money) he should be willing to grease rails all over and perform all sorts of misdeeds, and this we see in practice (scams anyone).
It is the rallying call of media everywhere that the Middle-Class must participate in politics, however I am of the opinion that what is reflected in our government now is what we are (the majority at least), we all believe one may do anything to get ahead (and in the process elbow each other into the ground), we all participate in and propagate these ills via our day-to-day behavior, and at the end of the day if we go to the temple to wash our sins (break a few coconuts, pay some money, again) "god" has forgiven us and we can retain our holier than thou status.
It is this, I am always right, our ancestors were always right attitude that should scare any sane person. You need to witness this brand of arrogance to understand it, Glenn Beck is not even close. We believe our ancestors were mathematical geniuses (and slave traders on the side, we forget that), we believe they achieved "divinity" long back, all we need to do is interpret it from shlokas. Many of us believe, the entire western civilization is copied from us, and that we were fantastically rich and living in a utopia(with slaves!!) before Vasco came and disturbed us.